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Uncle Josh Shills Himself

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

Every writer has one zombie story in them, and mine is in an anthology called “Zombiefied III: Hazardous Materials” edited by Carol Hightshoe and publish by Sky Warrior Books. There’s lots of good stuff in here.

Uncle Josh Redacts some Advice

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

A friend of mine posted on her Facebook page:

So adults tell me that being my age it’s normal to feel alone/not fit in… So my question is how long is that supposed to last?

Stephanie and I read this just as we got into the car, and serendipitously, Dimetrodon by the Doubleclicks was the next track on the CD. We decided to post the video to as a response.

I am no longer convinced that this was a complete answer. Several people described always feeling like this, even as they approach 50, and other people mentioned the importance of finding your tribe. This is all well and good, and I’m not saying we don’t need to find our tribes, but we shouldn’t rely on our tribes.

The exaggeration of “find your tribe” is to allow your identity and comfort to be dictated by those around you. The extreme opposite is the fetish of the individual. Like a good Episcopalian, I want to try to describe the way in between these two positions.

To me the “tribe” isn’t family, it’s friends sharing a common goal. Yes, my family is important, but the bonds are blood and legal contracts, the bonds of a tribe are interests and dreams. My church is a tribe, my writing groups is a tribe.

The external world can tell you honestly what your public facade looks like, and if it’s any good. But utlimately you have to decide who you are for yourself.

Trying to please everybody is impossible. Trying to please even a small focus group is impossible, even when they all care about you.

 

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

It’s been a while since I checked in with my alternate universe Joshes. Hearing that Google was deleting old GMail accounts, and knowing that I picked up this email address the day GMail went live, it’s one of the first, and as a generic address it is quite popular with anyone last name English whose first initial is J. That accounts for most of the 4,390 emails I have sitting over there, so let’s see what I’ve been up to;

  • I am still following the health of a priest or monk in White Plains, New York. This same person has also included me on death notices for folks I do not know. Sorry about your loss, Alternate Josh.
  • While pretending to be Julie, I have agreed to buy property in Decatur GA. The loan officer seems happy.
  • Apparently, as Jen, I’ve been to Sweden, and am expected back in Vancouver BC any time now, where I can sort out labor problems at a vinyard. I think this is spam, actually.
  • I’m going tenting in Virginia. The tent is 30′ by 30′. That’s pretty big.
  • I won a party at chain nightclub in Houston Texas.
  • I am getting emails in Spanish about the “largest industrial holding Russian producer of high civil and military technology.” Still.
  • I have missed my interview for a Commercial Portfolio Manager III position with Fifth Third bank in Chicago. These are the emails I really hate to see. Clearly someone really needed to see this, but this Alternate Josh doesn’t look all that often.
  • ACK! Teddy missed a playdate with Wil at somebodeys pool! I don’t know who Teddy is, of course.
  • I also missed a chance to play “Gawf” with the guys.
  • I drive a Kia, but one of me drives a Toyota, and has missed an appointment in Arlington Texas.

And this is just the mail that made it into the inbox. There’s 4000 more or so but I won’t bother. But, this being GMail, I have three other sections to check out. Other highlights include an insurance policy in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and I guess one of me moved to England because I’m getting offers in pounds, now, and discussions about tea.

The most amazing thing is there are very few sex-related emails in this. I’m getting daily updates from “Filthy over Fifty” which I’ve never even heard of (but it is British, and boy are they explicit in their emails), but these are much nicer emails than I’m getting from Golf Digest. I have 29 thousand emails in that folder alone.

 

Uncle Josh reviews Ant-Man

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

Today I finally let myself see Ant-Man. Short review: Fun Flick. Go See.

Preview Review:

  • Batman v Superman (or whatever): Yawn. Let’s criticize the wanton destruction of Man of Steel with wanton destruction.
  • Star Wars Episode VII: Don’t break my heart. Please oh please do not break my heart.
  • Mission Impossible Rogue Nation: Won’t see it, because of capitalism.
  • Goosebumps: Definitely for the Netflix queue. This looks like it will be fun.

Slightly longer review: I don’t remember being an Avengers reader as  a kid, back whene there was really only one Avengers comic. When I returned to comics in adulthood* it was through Claremont and Davis’ Excalibur, and through that into the X-Men, and through the many years of X-everything and sort of disdain for anything “Team A”. I know some of the history of the Ant-Man character but not enough to be dogmatic.

I know both Hank Pym and Scott Lang wore the costome and took the name in the comic books, and I appreciate how this movie made that work. They’re dealing with comic characters created over 50 years ago; there’s a lot of history and storyline to deal with, and the MCU seems to be building up to a Jim Starlin Extravaganza. (I am for this, by the way.)

So they let the younger man take the lead, and it works. Lang is a catburglar trying to go straight, and not getting very far. He has a daughter who is as cute as a button and an ex-wife who is now engaged to a cop. I felt the writing was a bit heavy handed with the repeat of “be the hero your daughter thinks you are.” That may have been an attempt to tie in to the “second chances” theme, but it didn’t work so well for me.

I also feel like a nitpick goes to how quickly they crossed the country during the movie, and the whole bit about the raid on the Avengers, while fun, was not contextualized enough. All that means is they assumed anyone seeing Ant-Man had seen Avengers Age of Ultron.

Another nit-pick: Ant-Man hits a lot of people for someone claiming to be a pacifist.

The positives, though, are many (HERE BE SPOILERS): Scotts Ex-Wife doesn’t dump her fiancée to accept Scott back in her life, but she still accepts Scott back in her life. Scott’s kid is brave and solid, and while technically needs to be rescued there is a glimpse of the girl who won’t need rescuing later in life. Hope van Dyne is an unexpected love interest, but she sure as hell doesn’t need protecting, and would appear to be perfectly capable of handling the crap her father want to protect her from. She should be an equal partner to Ant-Man as the next Wasp.

Plot wise, the parallel between Pym and Lang works. Both men have fractured relationships with their daughters and desire to win their daughters back. Naturally, they have to do things they don’t want to do. Pym has to let go of some control, and Lang has to fight. Once Lang makes the decision, to take his second chance, though, he never looks back. He also never gives up.

This, I think, is the hallmark of the Marvel hero. Everyone gives up on the plan except Lang, and he finds a way through using the most amusing sidekicks. (I hope the DVD has a bunch of shorts with Luiz just telling stories.) There is no rallying cry moment, though. Lang doesn’t show doubt after he accepts the hero’s journey. Even though those around him are doubtful and feeling hopeless, he pushes on. Come to think of it, I don’t know if any of the other MCU heroes used a rallying cry. (For comparison, Aragorn gives a speech before battle at the black gates in The Return of The King, Shakespeare’s Henry V gives his St. Crispin’s Day speech.)

There is no pause for hopelessness, and perhaps that makes for a more lightheated hero movie. Maybe lighthearted is the wrong word, but the movie had more laughs in it than other MCU entries. I suppose when the villian is also threatened by a toy Thomas the Tank Engine, there’s a certain levity that cannot be avoided and therefore must be embraced, and embrace it they did.


* Well, adolesence allowed to drink

Uncle Josh defends Atticus Finch

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

Okay, so I’ve heard all sorts of stuff about Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s “first novel” that didn’t wow publishers at the time but the next book, To Kill a Mockingbird, came out in 1960 and has been considered one of the great American novels of the 20th century.

The deluge of reactions to Watchman seem to be “Atticus Finch is a Racist” which appears to be the exact opposite of the man we meet in Mockingbird. It’s shocking. It’s almost libel.

There’s enough about the book and how it may be exploiting Lee, and that it was never meant to be published once it was shelved, to make me not want to read it. The stuff about Atticus being a member of the KKK is also hard to swallow. I’m probably going to decide that Watchman is in the same class as Highlander 2 and The Phantom Menace: a sequel that doesn’t really exist in a sane an rational world.

I maintain, however, that America needs Atticus Finch from Mockingbird. We need that good man who reacts to his own sense of justice. At every turn, he takes the higher road (as my memory of Mockingbird tells me). Several years ago the American Film Institute ran a special about the greatest heroes and villains of the movies. Best Villain: Darth Vader. Best Hero: Atticus Finch.

I have not heard anyone attempt to reconcile the Atticus of Mockingbird to the Atticus of Watchman, but one theory my sciolism can manage is this: Mockingbird recounted the story from a child’s POV and the natural hero-worship of a parent. Watchman apparently deals with Jean Louise’s disillusionment about her father. Thus, Atticus from Mockingbird is not the real Atticus Finch Lee was writing about all along.

Even if this were true, which I doubt, I still say we need Atticus Finch as described in Mockingbird, even if he is pushed more into mythological bounds by rose-colored youth. We need the man’s advice and wisdom and temperament.

As we enter yet another election cycle where war-monger Lindsey Graham is looking like the closest thing to a reasonable human being the Republicans can get, imagine an election where civility reigned. Imagine people who stood up for good things and explained without vitriol what they want to bring to the table.

Instead we have attention-seeking assholes like Donald Trump trying to buy publicity through our election cycle.

I’ll take Atticus Finch any day.

Uncle Josh Solves a Problem

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

We really need to do something about clutter. Mail is a major contributor to clutter, and it tends to fall in geological sheets on horizontal surfaces, only not so stable. Put the mail down to deal with “later” and mailalanche. Plus, the mail stacks up next to the charging stations for the two phones, three tablets, smartwatch, battery recharger, and the camera charger. What we need is a non-horizontal mail holder.

A trip to IKEA proved fruitless. It was like they barely thought about mail. I guess in the uberclean living of the IKEA catalog, bills are paid online and junk mail doesn’t make it into the house. So we gave up on finding a solution that would would to contain the cable clutter and give us a non-horizontal space to leave mail.

One of my rabbit holes is papercraft. I haven’t touched the stuff in a long time, but I will occasionally jump back into it. This weekend I built the box, and tonight I prototyped the top.

The bottom shelf stores the battery and camera chargers. The second to bottom shelf has holes in the back through which we can feed the USB cables. The top lifts up to give access to that shelf. The mail sorter works through sheer luck, but mail is held in place. Eventually I’ll get the tablets in there as well so I can charge them together.

Uncle Josh is Tired with the Spam already

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

During the past week, I made some changes to my ISP-hosted web site so it now crossposts to my WordPress-hosted site, and to my LiveJournal, which is languishing in obscurity.

And boy, have the “masses” responded:

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I actually like what you’ve received right here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way by which you are saying it.
You make it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it sensible.

I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is really a great web site.

Hey, thanks for the goodfeels, Mr. Spam. At least, if I can parse your grammar, I think it’s goodfeels.

Excellent pieces. Keep writing such kind of information on your page.
Im really impressed by your blog.
Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I will definitely
digg it and in my opinion suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this site.

I especially appreciate greeting lines in the middle of the comment.

Most of these 70 or so comments are from drupalgardens.com addresses. Bost of the address are Best___.drupalgardens.com, so I’v got the best vacuum cleaners, bird baths, toothpaste, home security systems. It’s like they downloaded Mark Pilgrim’s Kant Generator and just went to town.

It is almost as fun as checking out my Alternate Universe Identities. I need to check in on them, I had several auto purchases and reverse mortgages to settle.

Uncle Josh Thinks about Equality

Originally published at Uncle Josh Talks Too Much. You can comment here or there.

Today is a great day if you care about civil rights. Today is a great day if you care about loving your neighbor as yourself (you know, as Christ commanded His followers to do). I can understand that some people are upset, but I have a hard time understanding why they’re so upset, other than reasons that are not good reasons.

Naturally, I’m talking about SCOTUS deciding that every American citizen has the basic right to marry.</abbr>

This country was founded on an ideal that “all Men are created equal” and even when those words were published, they were not practiced. Slaves would be only 3/5ths of a person, and only for headcounts, and women were not included, nor were those who didn’t own land. Guess what? We started to change these things and bring the United States closer to being a country where equality was true and real thing that affects everyone.

The US has also had a culture of the Invisible Unequal. Sometimes they were clearly visible, but the inequality was seen as the way things are. We slowly allowed more people to vote, and slowly granted more people the same rights that “the people” naturally took for granted.

Today, a large group of people came closer to being Full Citizens with Equal Rights in this country, and that’s a good thing.

Tomorrow we must continue the fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work. Tomorrow we must continue to mourn our losses. Tomorrow we must continue the journey towards our American Ideal. (Yeah, that’s a lot of capitalization, but these are important, damn it.)

Today we celebrate.

In Which I Wish Not To Feel Like An Idiot

Yet Internet Connectivity Drama Day has made me feel incompetent, unable to trace the steps I took last year and the year before. I've had DSL for several years, and I've enjoyed the hell-of-a-lot-better than dialup since.

Last year we bought a new WiFi router to speed up the connection to the Chromecast and Wii and our tablets and all that other stuff that wants to WiFi everything these days. The DSL modem has a WiFi network that sits unused, and I'd really like to turn that off.

The problem is I cannot find my admin password. Keepass file? Nope. LastPass Vault? Nope. Evernote? Keep? Drive? A file with "dsl" or "modem" or "router" on my hard drive? Nope. Nope. Nope time three. I even searched my terabyte backup. Nada.

So I can reset the modem and start over, right?

Wrong.

There are specific configurations that I cannot find. I can set up the DSL modem according to my ISPs wishes, but I seem to be missing some vital value, like the Gateway number. So resetting my modem leads to distress and pain and feeling like a total idiot. Forutnately, my modem has a Backup/Restore feature and a working copy of my connections are there, so I can get onto the internet again, but I have the extraneous WiFi network, and my WiFi router seems to be knocked out of the loop.

Maybe it's okay having this rogue WiFi network. I'm operating on the probably mistaken belief that if I turn off the WiFi on the Modem, it will be able to send more traffic through to the new WiFi router.

And after several failed attempts to get a hold of my ISP, who I am sure are swamped with stupid user questions, I got a hold of them and found out this rollover doesn't take effect until Tuesday.

Fortunately, I'm still on vacation on Tuesday, so I have a chance to fix things around here.

In Which I Try to Build Steam

I've been trying to get the time and energy to turn 2015 into the Year of the Novella. Clearly, making plans is a sure way for them not to come to fruition. So I turned to the 100 prompts program to build momentum. That hasn't worked. One story got through the whole process and is on market. Stories two and three are sitting waiting for me to compile the critiques from April 7. Story Four needs serious re-writing. Story Five failed. Story Six failed. Story Seven Failed, and the reboot of Story Seven failed. I'm talking "what is the next word going to be" kind of failure for a couple of weeks.

I have lost my momentum.

Last night I ran my critique group through Jim Van Pelt's Seven Sentence Story, which is always fun and I've done in several times and tried to expand it. So, to switch up the momentum, I'm going to start with prompt 8 and push forward, writing seven-sentence stories, one a day, hopefully two, maybe even three, until I get through the book.

I will admit that some seeds have been planted. Now I need to deepen the well and get back to work.

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